2021 IU Preseason Draft Prospect Spotlight

The 2020 Indiana Hoosiers were one of the most successful teams in school history, finishing the season 6-2 and earning a bid to the Gator Bowl.  However, the Hoosiers didn’t have much of a presence in the 2021 NFL Draft.  Safety Jamar Johnson was the only Indiana player selected and 4 others were able to sign Undrafted Free Agent deals.  IU fans are hoping for a very similar result on the field, but can the 2021 version of the IU Hoosier draft prospects have a greater impact on the draft next spring? 

On the surface, it would appear to be a near certainty that there will be more than 1 drafted Hoosier on this team and more than 5 total that will be playing on Sundays next fall given how many preseason All-Americans and All-Conference players on the roster.  However, one thing to remember is that great college players aren’t always great professionals! Some examples of great college players that didn’t quite translate to the next level are Kellen Moore and Matt Leinart.  And sometimes guys who are just good in college go on to be great players at the next level, such as Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs.  That’s something to keep in mind as you read the short evaluations on the players and the projected draft range for them at the moment! Also, they haven’t played a single snap in 2021 and no one says they can’t vastly improve.

2021 Offensive Draft Prospects

  • Michael Penix
    • Penix is arguably the best quarterback in the Big Ten this season, and the key cog to the Hoosiers dreams of a historic season.  Penix has an above average arm, quick release, and nice athleticism despite 2 ACL injuries.  However, Penix must become more consistent play to play, drive to drive with his accuracy and ball placement to be considered in the top 50 of the draft. Regardless of how well or poorly Penix plays, though, his injury history is going to be a cloud hovering over his draft stock that he may not be able to overcome.
    • Projected Draft Range: Late Day 2-Early Day 3
  • Ty Fryfogle
    • Fryfogle is your stereotypical thick bodied college receiver who wins at contested catch opportunities at a high rate.  He has phenomenal hands and flashes an ability to win down the field despite likely not being an elite athlete.  With that said, Fryfogle doesn’t create much separation which typically is necessary for a smooth transition to the next level.  Even players such as Laquon Treadwell, who won in a similar fashion and was a first round pick, has just never been able to stick or become a primary weapon for a team.
    • Projected Draft Range: Mid to late Day 3
  • Peyton Hendershot
    • Hendershot is a 6’4” roughly 250-pound athletic TE that really flashed for the Hoosiers in 2019.  He flashed nice athleticism and an ability to make big plays down the field and with the ball in his hands.  2020 was not nearly as positive for him.  Hendershot had several drops and didn’t look as dynamic as he was in 2019.   However, the biggest issue for Hendershot will be his off-field issues tied to his arrest for domestic battery.
    • Projected Draft Range: Late Day 3-UDFA

2021 Defensive Draft Prospects

  • Micah McFadden
    • McFadden is one of the highest regarded linebackers in the country following a 6-sack season in 2020 as an off-ball linebacker.  He has great feeling and timing when blitzing and is a solid tackler/finisher.  He’s also a very good run defender and shows the ability needed to take on/shed blockers to limit gains.  In coverage McFadden is lacking, but that is partially due to lack of reps. Despite needing work in coverage, he does have ball production that show he’s not a total liability.
    • Projected Draft Range: Late Day 2-Early Day 3
  • Tiawan Mullen
    • Mullen is an absolute ball magnet.  What he lacks in size (roughly 5’10” 180-pounds) he makes up for in tenacity.  Not only is he a quality cover corner, but he is a great blitzer from the slot.  It’s extremely difficult to watch Mullen and not get Kenny Moore vibes.  His size will likely cause him to fall in the draft, but he could be a starting slot corner in the NFL from day 1.
    • Projected Draft Range: Day 2

Players with NFL Potential

  • Steven Carr
    • Carr was a 5-star recruit at USC who flashed early but was never able to sustain success.  He will likely be the lead back for the Hoosiers and will have a clear opportunity to break out. If he can provide some balance to the Indiana offensive attack, he’ll likely get some attention.
  • Caleb Jones
    • Jones has the one thing you can’t teach, size, and he has it in spades.  He’s an absolute mammoth of a man, but last season admitted to gaining bad weight during quarantine, eclipsing 390-pounds.  During the offseason he rededicated himself to his dream of playing at the next level by shedding 30 pounds.  Can the loss of weight help him be more consistent in pass protection?
  • Marcelino McCrary-Ball
    • McCrary-Ball plays the husky position in the Hoosiers 4-2-5 defense.  He is a hard nosed box safety and leader who could excel at the next level on special teams. However, he must be able to come back from a myriad of injuries he’s sustained during his career in Bloomington, he could make an appearance on day 3.

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